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Twitter user in Kuwait imprisoned for 'inciting civil disobedience'

(ANHRI/IFEX) - 15 January 2013 - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) denounces the two-year jail sentence issued by the Kuwaiti Criminal Court against blogger Gamal El-Dawi.

The hearing was held on 14 January 2013 wherein the blogger was offered bail for 5000 Kuwaiti dinars ($US 17700) and a three-year suspended sentence.

El-Dawi was detained and sentenced for posting statements to Twitter that the Kuwaiti authorities found illegal, claiming that he was inciting civil disobedience.

Another blogger, Nasser El-Ansary, who was detained earlier for allegedly insulting the Emir of Kuwait, was released on a bail of 1000 Kuwaiti Dinar ($US 3550) by the Court of Appeal.

In continuation of the campaign of legal prosecutions launched by authorities against bloggers, media professionals, and activists, the stateless activist Faris Ga'd El-Shimiri appeared in court for investigation after participating in demonstrations that took place in Kuwait on 2 October 2012. He was arrested a few days prior to his appearance in court.

Writer Mohamed Abdul Qader will also be investigated for an article he published on his website on 30 October 2012 entitled "Message to a King and a Shiekh, in which he addressed a letter to the Saudi Arabian King, Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz Al-Saud and the Crown Prince of Abu-Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed Ben Said Al-Nahyan. The letter was deemed insulting by the Kuwaiti authorities.

"The authorities are persisting to issue unfair sentences to activists and bloggers and to prosecute them for expressing their opinions using flexible legal provisions such as Article 20 of the Printing and Publishing Law, which prevents anyone from dealing with the Emir or quoting his words without a written permission from the Emir's office. Article 21 of the law, which is also being used, states in one of its paragraphs that anyone who harmfully affects the relations of the state of Kuwait with other Arab or friendly countries is to be punished. The authorities' determination to use these provisions puts an end to any remaining respect that Kuwait has for freedom of expression," stated ANHRI.

ANHRI calls on the Kuwaiti authorities to immediately release all prisoners of opinion and conscience and drop all charges against them. The network calls on the Kuwaiti National Assembly to review the laws that restrict certain freedoms if it wants to prove that it represents the Kuwaiti majority and is not just a tool in the hands of the authorities, designed to draft the laws desired by the authorities.

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